How to Never Sell Any Books


How to Never Sell Any books

If you decide to be an author, there are a few rather spikey lessons which must be learnt along the way. If you want to write, and never be read, then here are a few tips which will ensure that no one ever buys your books. Sit back, and enjoy:

  1. When a bookshop agrees to sell your books, sit back, and do nothing else. This will ensure your book sits, undiscovered, on a dusty shelf, never to be opened again.
  2. If you are cajoled into turning up for a book-signing event, then you can bypass the danger with a few clever ploys:
    1. Do not wear anything even remotely attractive. Try to look as dowdy and uninteresting as possible. If someone should buy your book, it certainly won’t be because they are interested in you, as the author.
    2. Be sure to take your phone, and sit playing games the entire time. Eating something messy, like a burger, is another good ploy.
    3. Do not, whatever you do, make eye-contact, or speak to people passing by. It’s best if you can position a table between you and the potential customers, and sit behind it with your arms folded whenever not playing game/eating (see above).
    4. Don’t plan any kind of ‘speech’ about your book. If someone should interrupt your game/food to ask what the book is about, look confused and mumble something incoherent.
    5. Do not make your table look attractive. Beware of taking posters, or visual aids related to your book. It’s much better to simply dump a pile of books on the table, face-down if possible.
    6. Never offer a book to a potential customer so they can hold it, feel the quality, read a snippet. If possible, keep the books well out of reach.
    7. Do not smile, not even a slight grin. Not selling books is a serious business, and it’s worth having a good scowl at all times.
    8. Never ask potential customers what they like reading, or engage them in conversation. If they insist on trying to chat, and especially if they want to tell you about the book they have written/intend to write (this happens A LOT) then cover your ears and hum loudly until they have left.
    9. Swearing loudly, picking your nose, cutting your toe-nails, will all help to deter potential customers. If you could have a spouse handy for a loud argument, that would be brilliant, otherwise use your phone and pretend.
  3. Avoid all places that might sell your books, and never mention them when you are with other people. Best to pretend that they don’t exist, in case you manage to make them sound interesting by mistake.
  4. When planning the cover of a new book, try to use dull colours, and never use the services of a professional. Do not make them even slightly similar to other books of the same genre.
  5. When printing the book, do not worry about the typesetting. It’s best if you ignore the way professionally published books are typeset, and try to add interesting features, like leaving a line between every paragraph, not indenting the first line of a paragraph, and use a font which will be sure to annoy any potential customers.
  6. Never, ever, allow anyone to edit your work prior to publication. This will ensure that, in worst case scenario someone actually manages to read some of your work when intending to buy it, the number of typos and misspelt words and general bad grammar will ensure that they quickly close the book and move on.
  7. Always make your books more expensive than any other book on the market.

 

I’m sure you can add to the above with some more excellent ways to ensure that you never sell a book. Good luck.

Thanks for reading. Take care,
Love, Anne x

Thanks for reading.
You can follow my blog at:
anneethompson.com

There’s No End-Date to Parenting…


Sometimes, it can feel like you spend ten years teaching your child to be independent, and then twenty years wishing that you hadn’t! When your children are young, you long for them to be strong-minded, independent people who don’t need you anymore. But then when they are adults, and start to make their own decisions about how they will live, that can bring a whole different set of problems.

Meet Susan and Tom. They are farmers raising beef cattle, and their four sons are independent adults. But then they start to make life-choices that their parents find challenging, and Susan and Tom begin to wonder what their own role should be. One son announces he is a vegetarian, one son gets into debt, one is unfaithful and then one son tells them that he is gay.

Before writing the book, I spent a lot of time listening. I listened to farmers, and learnt what it means to raise cattle.

I also listened to parents who had learnt their children were gay, and to gay men and women who are discovering what that means in today’s society. One of the groups that finds this most challenging is the church, and so I also spent time listening to what people in the church think and feel. One aspect that came out (excuse the pun) very strongly, is that sometimes, neither side of the traditional Christian viewpoint seem to actually understand how the other side feels. It seemed to me that there was a lot of talking, of proclaiming of views, and very little listening—because of all other issues, this seems to be the most emotive.

 I wanted to write a ‘nice’ book—something happy that my readers would enjoy (after a few years of learning about, and writing novels about, psychopaths, I still find that my easy-read fun novel about an infant school is the one that people want to buy a second copy of, for their friends). Writing a funny book set on a farm seemed like a good idea. Introducing potentially inflammatory issues was a little trickier. I hope I have achieved a good balance and produced a book which will make you smile whilst also giving food for thought. I worked very hard to represent differing views fairly, and my hope is that by the end you will have heard each viewpoint very clearly whilst not being sure what my, the author’s, view is. Personally, I fell in love with some of the characters, to the extent that when the book was finished, I immediately started to write the sequel!

I hope you think it is a jolly good story and you will recommend it to a friend.

Please buy a copy, and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

anneethompson.com

Ploughing Through Rainbows by Anne E. Thompson

Available from Amazon as a Kindle book and a paperback. UK link below:

paperback link

Kindle link

Designing a Book Cover


I love telling stories, and I love writing stories. However, when I decided to try and sell my stories, I realised that I would need covers for my books. At first, I thought that the cover didn’t really matter, everyone has heard the proverb: “Don’t judge the book by the cover.” If the story was excellent, people would read it. Ah, how wrong I was!

In reality, people do judge the book by the cover. I have learned a few points about book cover design – mainly from Mr. P, the man who runs my local independent bookshop, as he knows exactly what will attract customers, and he has kindly spent hours educating me on all things book-sales-related.

One point is the spine of your book. If you plan to sell through shops, people will only ever see the spine of your book (unless you are a bestseller author in Waterstones, in which case, you don’t need to be reading this!) My first book had nothing but words on the spine, so I was advised to add pictures or colours, to make it more attractive. If you look at commercially produced books, most have more than just words on the spine.

Actually, looking at commercially produced books is an excellent way to learn. Another thing Mr P. told me, was that people buy books which look like books they have previously enjoyed. Is this true? Well, have a look at the covers of books next time you’re in a bookshop.

Lee Child (bestseller) tends to have a photograph of a lonely man on his covers. If you look, other publishers are now copying this.

In fact, some books that are in bookshops are barely discernible from each other, as the covers are almost identical.

Which means that I, as a lowly self-published author, need to take a look at popular books which are similar to mine, and copy their covers.

Now, Ploughing Through Rainbows is set on a farm raising cows. I therefore planned to use a photograph of cows on the cover.

After some honest feedback from family members (my family are not the sort who tell me everything is wonderful, they are very happy to point out my errors!) I realised this wouldn’t work. To begin with, there was nothing about the cover which linked with the title. My son then tried adding rainbows. I loved this, felt the cover was sorted. But then I mentioned the advice about having a cover that was similar to covers of famous books. We looked at a few.

Ploughing Through Rainbows is fairly similar to the books by James Herriot – it will appeal to intelligent readers who want a nice, feel-good book, and the story is about the people rather than action (no murders in this one). James Herriot books have a computer-generated drawing on the front, showing a pastoral scene.

When I looked at other books set in the countryside, they were similar. This was beyond my capabilities, so my son produced a cover for me. I think it looks great, I hope you agree.

 Thank you for reading. Do look out for my new book, it will soon be available from Amazon, and it tells the story of a mother learning how to parent four adult sons. It’s a book to make you smile, whilst also considering some gritty issues.

Have a good week.

Love, Anne x

anneethompson.com

 

Finding a Publisher…


When I decided to publish my first novel, way back in 2015, I sent the manuscript to a selection of publishers, and sat back to await their offers. Ah, would that I could return to those days of naivety…The sad fact is, people today do not want to pay much to read a book, they want cut-price bargains, special ‘two-for-one’ deals…or to read it for free as an ebook. This means that to cover the cost of editing, and type-setting, and cover photos and printing, publishers have to select their books very carefully. They then have to set a price which will cover their costs, even when the wholesaler has demanded a 65% discount, and bookshops have taken their 35% share…never mind that the publisher might want to eat occasionally.

Hence the sad situation we are in today, where publishers generally only publish books from known authors—people who are practically guaranteed to sell enough books to cover their costs. Which means that new authors find it almost impossible to find someone to publish their work. If anyone asks me how they should best set about ‘being a writer’, I would tell them to find a career either with a publishing agent, or in marketing. I find it telling that one of the latest best-sellers was written by someone with a career in online marketing—these are the people who publishers will be interested in.

However, I couldn’t be bothered at my age to start a whole new career, so I decided to self-publish my books—publishing Hidden Faces in 2016—which has now sold over 500 copies. (There is a section outlining costs under the ‘How to’ section of this blog.) I would though, very much like to be traditionally published, and recently, I thought it might be possible…

I finished writing Ploughing Through Rainbows in November 2018, and began to send it out to publishers (see yesterday’s blog for an insight into my state of mind!) However, I also sent it to someone else. A couple of years ago, a bookseller had been lent a copy of Hidden Faces, and she liked it sufficiently to send me an email, and also to order 40 copies for her bookshop. I decided to send her the manuscript of Ploughing Through Rainbows, in case she had any contacts within the publishing world who might be interested.

This led to the manuscript being read by a publisher, who sent me a 4-page critique, suggesting changes. I rewrote the book, and waited.

Several months later, the publisher replied, saying that due to the reduced market, they now ask the author to buy 500 of the books, at half-price, to help cover costs. This was somewhat of a shame, as one thing I hate about self-publishing is the number of books under my stairs!

However, the thought of being traditionally published was still enticing, so I asked for more details. I also did some research, and found that several smaller publishers ask the author to buy a certain number of books, usually at half-price. I sent a list of questions to the publisher, asking what the actual cost to myself would be, and what the print-run was likely to be (so I could see if he would actually extend the reach of my book). I also asked for the title of a book comparable to mine, so I could check the quality. I then ordered a copy from Amazon.

The price quoted was disappointing, as it was half the RRP of £12.99. Now, I know how this works, because do the same with my self-published books. If you sell through wholesalers and bookshops, they want a 65% discount, so in order to cover your costs, you set the price at about £13. However, when selling in person to customers, the actual selling price is usually nearer to £9. I was therefore expecting the price to me to be half of £8.99, not the recommended retail price.

The book arrived. Although it was published by the publisher, it was an Amazon Kindle book—like my travel book (The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary). To print a paperback Kindle book, you do not have to pay for them to be printed, nor do you have to order a specific number upfront—you could publish a book and buy just one copy. This left me rather bemused as to why I was being asked to pay such a large cost upfront—even given the editing/type-setting/cover costs, this still seemed unreasonable. Perhaps only the books sold through Amazon were printed by Amazon? Perhaps those ordered directly were printed traditionally? I ordered a second copy, via the publisher’s own website.

The second book arrived. Although it did not say it was printed by Amazon, it was the same quality. When I self-publish, my books are printed with pages in multiples of 16, so the paper is folded before glued to the spine, which makes for a lighter, more robust book. The Amazon books are good quality, they use a decent paper and a thick enough cover—but they are not as nice as books which have been printed traditionally. Nor do they cost as much. The type-setting was also disappointing, with Chapter One starting on page 5 (it’s a fiddle, and involves much swearing when I do it, but it is possible to add section-breaks to the manuscript, so that the title page and copyright pages are not part of the numbered pages). In my opinion, Chapter One should begin on page one.

I was now thoroughly fed-up. Not only was the publisher asking me to pay half the RRP of £12.99 for 500 copies, but the books were no better than those ordered individually through Amazon. I might decide to publish through Amazon—it is a good system—and it won’t cost me £3,000 upfront.

I have decided, with a heavy heart, to self-publish Ploughing Through Rainbows. It’s a good book—set on a farm, it shows the life of a family, exploring a few juicy issues along the way. I know it’s a good book. I know people will enjoy reading it. It will hopefully be available soon…

Tomorrow I will tell you what I have learnt about cover design, and which covers help to sell books. Why not sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss it?

Thank you for reading.
Love, Anne x

Anne E Thompson has written several novels, which are available from bookshops and Amazon.
Anne also writes a weekly blog — describing her travels, her animals, and life in general — Why not sign up to follow her blog today?
anneethompson.com

When it’s time to submit your manuscript to a publisher…


In November of last year, I wrote the following blog. I never posted it, because after I had calmed down a little, I realised that prospective agents/publishers might possibly look at my blog, and if they read this they might decide I was unsuitable. However, due to a whole lot of different circumstances, I am now about to launch my book, Ploughing Through Rainbows, and as I eventually self-published it, I have nothing to lose. Anyone who has attempted to find a publisher will, I’m sure, relate to the frustrations expressed below. Enjoy…

November 2018: I have started to look at publishers, ready to submit my farm book. It is such a demoralising activity, as everything is stacked in favour of the publisher/agent (even though at the point of submission, it is the author who has done all the work!) Some publishers even seem quite aggressive, and the following paragraph is a good example of what the lowly author can expect to find on their submissions page:

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Please read before submitting: Do not query us on a title that is already published. If your book is available (whether for sale or free) anywhere, in any format, in any length, in any iteration, we are not interested in these titles. It will not change our minds if you agree to “unpublish” it in the event we accept the title. We take very few reprints as it is. Reprints are almost always from an author with whom we already have a relationship, and they are always titles that have been out of print and unavailable for a considerable time.
Sorry to be so blunt here, but the note we have on our guidelines page is increasingly being ignored and the number of submissions we are receiving on titles that are, or have been, self-published on Amazon, on Smashwords, on blog posts, etc. is increasing. To submit these titles does nothing but waste your time and ours.

Not exactly encouraging, is it! In fact, there seems to be a distinct lack of information on what, exactly, the publisher is offering. They never seem to mention what they will do for the author – When (if ever) will they be contacted? What services (such as editing) will the publisher provide? When the book is published, will it be entered in competitions? How much will the author be paid? How will the publisher help to promote the work? Will the author be provided with copies to sell, or do they direct friends and family to the local bookshop? Will it even be in the local bookshop?

Some publishers and agents provide a form for submissions (which take about 2 hours to complete). Some ask for a single page synopsis, some want a two-page synopsis. Some want everything double spaced. Some want a particular font, or format; some want an exact word count. Some want a sales blurb, some want a ten-word pitch, some want a rhyming poem full of metaphors to describe your book. (Okay, the last one is a lie, but you get my point.)Why they cannot simply read the manuscript and decide whether or not to publish it defeats me.

So, the author is left wondering if it is worth jumping through all these hoops, only to receive a dozen rejection emails (if anything) in about 3 months time. Or perhaps it’s better to self-publish and have another 600 books in the cupboard under the stairs…

I hate this part of the process (in case you haven’t guessed that). I will let you know what I decide to do–though I have possibly managed to find a way to by-pass the initial submission stage…I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?

All Quiet On The Chicken Front…


I thought I would give you a quick update on my news. First, the family of cockerels. As you may remember, I was fortunate (!) enough for five of the six hatchlings to be male. Now, contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have a flock with more than one cockerel and not have open warfare. I know this because I had two cockerels who lived very peacefully alongside each other for a couple of years (until a fox ate them). However, five young cockerels, plus their father, seems like a lot.

As the hatchlings grew, and were allowed to roam freely around the garden, the flock separated. The parents and the female wander around the garden together, and the young cockerels form a separate flock. A few weeks ago, they started ‘facing off’ to each other. None of them has spurs yet (the deadly sharp talons on the back of their legs) so I figured they were unlikely to kill each other, and were probably simply sorting out the pecking order. I left them to it. The dog takes a keen interest in this, and has taken upon herself the role of peace-keeper. If they start to fight, she stamps on them – which is remarkably effective.

When we went to Devon for a week, I was worried about leaving them all in the same cage, so I split them up. I waited until evening, when they were all roosting on the perch, and then went to move the young cocks into a separate cage. I have to say, it takes an amount of courage to approach a cockerel, which is staring you in the eye, at head-height, with an elongated neck and fluffed up feathers. But I managed to pick them all up, ignored all the squawking, and carried them, one by one, to a new cage; and I survived without getting my eyes pecked out (which would have made Husband cross).

When I returned home after Devon, I opened both cages, to see what would happen. For a couple of days, the father and both hens roosted in one cage, the five young cockerels in the other. Gradually, as they have established a pecking order, two of the weaker cockerels have started to join the parents. I now have ‘the elite team’ of cockerels in one cage, and the rest in the other. For now, we are at an uneasy truce. If any of them become very aggressive, they will have to go (don’t ask me how – but I am not vegetarian, and neither is the local fox, so I figure I have a couple of options…unless you would like a pet cockerel? Do let me know.)

My other news, which is sort of vaguely related, is my new book, which is set on a farm. The first draft is finished, and I began to send it out to publishers. One publisher sent back a detailed editorial report, saying they didn’t want to publish it as it was, but would reconsider if I rewrote it. I am therefore in the process of rewriting it. This is taking much longer than I expected – longer in fact than writing the first draft, because as I change things, I lose the rhythm of the story, so have to rewrite increasingly large sections. It feels like work, and is not much fun. But I do feel the book is improving, so it’s worth the effort. When finished, I will resubmit to the publisher, and see what happens. I would like it to be released in the summer, but it may take longer than that. I will let you know.

A late Christmas gift was a trip to the British Museum and having a tour of the artefacts that relate to various stories in the Bible. Do you know why it was historically appropriate for Daniel to be put in a lions den? Or the name of the Pharaoh who put Joseph (of the coloured coat) in charge of all the agriculture? Or the Pharaoh who suffered the plagues at the time of the Exodus (because it probably wasn’t Ramesses!) I’ll tell you all about it in next week’s blog.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a good week.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?

A Rejected Novel


There was a woman, who wrote poems. People read them, said they were excellent, and she sent them to publishers, hoping to publish a book of poems.

But the publishers returned her manuscript, saying that no one buys poems, however her work showed promise, perhaps she should write a novel. (Any of you who write poems, will find this tale familiar.) She decided to invest in her own work, and self-published her poems. She only sold two books.

Not wanting to give up on her dream, she wrote a novel. She had heard that publishers wanted real-life characters, novels that reflected what was actually happening in the world. She wrote her novel, gave it to people to read and review, rewrote it many times, then sent it to publishers. Gradually, the rejection letters arrived. Some publishers were kind, again saying it “showed promise,” but no one would publish it.

In anger and disappointment, the woman wrote another novel, saying that although publishers said they wanted realism, in actual fact, they did not. This time, in reaction to the publisher’s rejections, she wrote a novel that was the opposite of what she’d been told. She wrote about characters who were bigger than life, about passion, and created a world that wasn’t realistic, with stylised characters and a sensationalised plot. This novel was well received, published several times, and she became established as an author.

She then wrote another novel, in the style of the unrealistic one, and this one too was acclaimed. So now, with two successful novels to her name, she decided to again return to her first novel. She was proud of it, felt it spoke the truth, and should be read. Feeling confident, she wrote a preface, and sent the manuscripts to publishers. It was again rejected.

As you have probably guessed, the author was Charlotte Brontë, and her successful novel was Jane Eyre. Her first novel, The Professor, was finally published by her husband after her death – and it still receives bad reviews today.

Now, I have always been fascinated by Charlotte Brontë. I love that both she and her sisters wrote, I love that she played imagination games when young, that her father was a clergyman, that for a while she was a teacher, that she includes lots from her own life in her novels, and that initially her books were rejected. (It also makes me laugh that when her sister Anne died, Charlotte removed her book from publication, saying that Anne had made a “grave mistake” in writing it! That so reminds me of big sisters throughout history.) I therefore decided to read her first novel, the story that was always rejected.

The Professor begins with a letter, which is Charlotte’s means to provide a back story for her main character, William Crimsworth. Even today, reviewers criticise this, saying that she has dumped information on the reader, has ignored the “don’t tell, show,” theory of writing novels. However, when I read it, I rather enjoyed that part. I continued to read, determined that I was going to love this novel, quite sure that all reviewers, past and present, did not represent my own views.

I was interested by the character of William from the outset, and enjoyed reading about his life. There was one interesting part, where Charlotte describes someone as having “plastic features” – but the novel was written in 1846, before the invention of plastic. A quick online search revealed that the word “plastic” was used by ancient Greeks, and meant “mouldable” or “flexible” – so possibly a slightly different meaning to how we would translate that today.

But then, the novel began to lose its attraction. Charlotte used lots of French phrases, and although I was reading a version with explanatory notes at the back, to keep referring to translations broke the flow of the book. She obviously was aiming her book at readers who are fluent in French (so not me).

The story was interesting – but only just. The main character is not particularly likeable, and although the plot is realistic, and gives insight into how life was at the time it was written; I’m not sure that for Charlotte’s contemporary readers it would be terribly entertaining.

In short, much as I hate to admit it, if I was a publisher in 1846, I would probably not take a risk on this book. Although personally, I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure how easy it would be to sell – I suspect it would be hard to recoup editing/proofreading/typesetting/cover/printing costs. Which for a publisher, much as we like to view books as valuable in their own right, has to be the major consideration.

As an author, I am intrigued by the story of Charlotte Bronte. The fact that such a talented author could be so mistaken about what kind of book would be marketable, is also interesting. I love some of my own books more than others – but they are not necessarily the things that sell the best. Sometimes authors have to make the decision whether they want to write something which satisfies themselves, or whether they want to write something which will be easy to sell. They are not necessarily the same.

Hope you make some good decisions this week. Thank you for reading; I’ll write again next week.

Take care.
Love, Anne x

A not particularly flattering sketch of Charlotte Brontë – I’m not sure if she’d have been pleased by it.
Thank you for reading.
You can follow my blog at:
anneethompson.com